Tony Schumacher raced to the $100,000 payday in the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout on Saturday, closing out an action-packed day of racing at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race.
Schumacher, a seven-time world champ and the winningest Top Fuel driver at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis with nine career victories, defeated Richie Crampton in the specialty bonus event final round with a 3.748-second run at 328.54 mph at the controls of his U.S. Army dragster.
It was the first Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory for Schumacher, and the run also locked him in as the Top Fuel qualifying leader with two remaining sessions. He broke the track record for speed with his final pass of the night.
“These are the eight best cars as a whole,” Schumacher said of the competition in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. “They’re cars that have gone out and won races and continuously find themselves in final rounds. It’s very satisfying (to win).”
Crampton, appearing in his first Traxxas Nitro Shootout, ran a 3.798 at 318.24 in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster. He defeated No. 2 seed Antron Brown and defending race winner Shawn Langdon en route to the final.
In Top Fuel qualifying, Steve Torrence’s Capco Contractors dragster ran a 3.753 at 326.16 to place him second in the qualifying order. Brainerd winner Morgan Lucas sits third following a 3.575 at 322.81 in his Lucas Oil/GEICO dragster.
In other racing on Saturday, the weather-delayed Funny Car and Pro Stock events from Brainerd continued at Indianapolis.
In Funny Car, Ron Capps drove his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to a Brainerd victory over John Force with a 4.026 at 320.36. It was his second win of the season and 43rd of his career. Capps has five career wins at the Brainerd event.
“It was hard waiting all this time,” Capps said of the delay from Brainerd. “It was cool knowing you were going to race Force, knowing you’re going to do it at Indy, of all places, on a Saturday night under the lights. We knew that was going to happen regardless.”
Force was appearing in his fifth final in a row. With the result, Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang passed John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight to take over the No. 1 spot in the Funny Car points.
The Pro Stock semifinals featured Jason Line posting a 6.589 at 210.01 in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro to defeat Dave River, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. clocked a 6.638 at 207.88 in his JEGS.com Dodge Dart to defeat Vincent Nobile. Line’s run was good enough for the provisional No. 1 qualifying position. The Pro Stock final will run on Sunday during the fourth qualifying session at 11 a.m.
“The Summit Camaro is on a rail right now,” said Line, who will be going for his 35th career victory tomorrow. “It's definitely the best race car that I've ever had. It's taken us a long time to get here, but it's a great feeling – especially in today's Pro Stock, where it's tough to have any kind of an advantage. Right now, it feels like we actually have a little one."
Line was followed in qualifying by Vincent Nobile, who posted a 6.601 at 208.49 in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro. Shane Gray currently sits third with a 6.603 at 209.17 in the Gray Manufacturing Camaro.
Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined Schumacher and Line as qualifying leaders of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals following the second and third qualifying sessions during the final event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season.
Beckman, currently 11th in the Funny Car points and chasing Tim Wilkerson for the final Countdown to the Championship transfer spot, shot to the top of the leaderboard with a track-record time of 4.004 at 312.13 in his Valvoline MaxLife Dodge Charger. Beckman is seeking his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season.
“It’s really hard to complain right now,” said Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champ. “It wasn’t just that run. We’ve made three good runs. Maybe we weren’t at the top of the qualifying sheets, but the car did what it was supposed to do, what we predicted it to do.”
Del Worsham ran a 4.016 at 317.12 to land his DHL Toyota Camry in the provisional No. 2 spot. Matt Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger is third following a 4.021 at 318.99.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Savoie ran a 6.878 at 194.18 on a Suzuki. He is looking for his second career No. 1 position following his top qualifying effort at Sonoma last month.
“I’m happy to be No. 1, but I know we can do better,” Savoie said. “As a racer, you always want to go faster. You’re always looking for one little thing that you can improve on. We’ll come back tomorrow and try again and see if we can do better.”
Eddie Krawiec currently sits second following a 6.904 at 194.74 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Hector Arana Jr.’s Lucas Oil Buell ran a 6.906 at 194.27, good enough for the provisional No. 3 position.
Qualifying will conclude on Sunday with sessions at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for Monday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.
Don Walsh raced to the qualifying lead Saturday during the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the event. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing is presented by JEGS.
Walsh ran his late-model Chevy Camaro to a top performance of 5.863 seconds at 252.61 mph to move around Friday top qualifier Troy Coughlin. If Walsh’s run holds during the final qualifying session on Sunday, it will be the fifth career No. 1 qualifying position for Walsh and first since 2012.
Coughlin, the 2012 NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champ, is currently No. 2 with a 5.866 at 248.52 in a late-model Corvette. Jeff Naiser also ran a 5.892 in his Naiser Racing ’69 Camaro to sit third in the qualifying order.
Pro Mod qualifying will conclude Sunday morning, and eliminations will begin later that afternoon.
Detailed coverage and features from the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals can be found on NationalDragster.net. The site is open to all users throughout the event.